Any restaurant that dares call itself Pho Sure risks offending potential diners. The name is, for sure, an egregious pun. And since pho, the emblematic dish of Vietnam, is usually a beef-based noodle soup, it might well ward off vegetarians. That would be a shame, since San Antonio offers few vegetarian-friendly menus, and Pho Sure’s, which includes faux-chicken, is one of them. The restaurant is also just plain friendly. During my incognito visit, three gregarious servers attended to our needs, and, after stuffing our bellies almost enough to resemble the effigy of the Buddha squatting above the portal to his open kitchen, Thinh Mai, the proprietor, filled our ears with his dream of creating a space for holistic living, in which artists, musicians, and herbalists mingle with hungry bodies, minds, and souls. He envisions book swaps and workshops in yoga, gardening, and alternative therapies.
Pho Sure only recently began inhabiting the site of Big Kahuna, a defunct Vietnamese establishment on West Ashby near San Pedro Park. It is close enough to the San Pedro Playhouse that package deals of dinner and a theater ticket are available — they might be particularly attractive to the adventurous audiences who frequent the San Pedro’s Cellar Theater.
When I stopped in for dinner, the sign outside had not been changed, and the menu was still Big Kahuna’s. However, it was opening night for the restaurant’s Saatea Lounge, a tea bar that adjoins the dining room and which was celebrating the occasion with live music and complimentary kambucha tea and organic smoothies. The walls of both the restaurant and the tea room were adorned with Cindy Palmer paintings, and paper lanterns helped shed light on culinary choices. I was informed that during its “soft opening” Pho S